Upcycling pallets for PICA

In addition to assisting with recycling and composting efforts at Portland International Airport, the Port of Portland’s waste minimization team identifies opportunities for repurposing materials, or upcycling. Upcycling is the reuse of a material in its current or near-current form, using less energy than the reprocessing commonly associated with standard recycling. Wood pallets are one of many materials the Port collects in hopes of upcycling. Pallets arrive with deliveries to PDX and they accumulate in PDX’s central waste collection area. The PDX pallets made an artful appearance at the 2013 Time Based Art Festival, sponsored by the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art.

This year’s TBA festival took place in a 40,000 square foot warehouse at Con-way’s Northwest Portland facility, and the pallets were an ideal option for the industrial chic theme. Because the TBA Festival works with a nominal budget, donated wood pallets were an excellent option for constructing temporary structures such as a bar and stairs. Claire Papas, a member of the 2013 TBA festival design/build team noted that, “the use of pallets was a nod to the history of the building.” Con-way is a freight transportation and logistics company.

With the help of GBD Architects, the design/build team crafted the almost 300 pallets of various sizes and shapes into steps, signage, a 20-foot long greeting table, a 40-foot long bar, and two additional 20-foot long bars. When the dust settled and the festival ended, the team dismantled the structures and listed the pallets for free on craigslist.org, where they could be re-used once again. Thanks, in part, to the donated pallets, the community-based project came in under budget.

Thanks to Mark Kenseth of the Port of Portland Technical Assistance Project for contributing this story.  


(Photo credit: Brian Lee, Brewhouse